New actuary club calculates the odds at PSU

What are the odds? A new club on campus is centered on finding the answers to questions like this.

What are the odds? A new club on campus is centered on finding the answers to questions like this.

The PSU Actuary Club held its first meeting on Wednesday, and although it is only one of many student organizations to form recently, the club does more than just fall in with the numbers–it defines the numbers and uses them to predict the future.

Actuaries determine the odds and risks of financial and emotional situations. Consequently, actuaries often work in insurance companies, quantifying the consequences of insuring a person or family.

Nicole Campbell, leader and founder of the club, said that while many universities have programs devoted to actuarial science, PSU does not.

“What’s amazing to me,” she said, “is they are so unknown [at PSU]. This is a growing field with many external rewards and zero unemployment, yet there are no resources at PSU.”

Although PSU offers a few actuary-related courses, Campbell said she hopes that the actuary club will enable students to pursue opportunities in this specialized science.

The club will bring together those who are interested in the field of actuarial sciences at PSU, Campbell said, and provide them with information and resources to explore potential careers. Members will be able to gain understanding and experience in the kind of work that actuaries do as well as meet recruiters in the field.

Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 25 jobs in the United States in 2007, actuaries are in high demand. Although about six out of 10 actuaries are employed by insurance companies, they also work in banks, investment and accounting firms, and as market and catastrophe analysts.

Campbell said actuarial sciences are “a true-to-life field that takes math and translates it into real terms and equations for companies. It’s predictive, not theoretical, and it doesn’t matter if it’s ugly because it’s real.”

Corporations pay actuaries well to tell the companies the truth about their chances of future success. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the median earnings of actuaries was between $54,770 and $107,650 in 2005, with top-level actuaries grossing upwards of $250,000. College graduates with a bachelor’s degree start at $52,741.

Although mathematical fortitude is essential to do well on the series of exams one must take to become an actuary, Campbell said the process of becoming an actuary is “very rigorous and expensive.” Once a student or aspiring actuary passes the first of these tests, recruiters spring up to hire them and provide a paycheck while the actuary-to-be completes the exams, Campbell said.

“Companies are hungry, they come to you,” she said.

The actuary club will enable students to greatly improve their chances of being scouted by these actuary hunters. By creating an actuarial community at PSU, Campbell said the club attracts the skill of students and the interest of recruiters looking for their company’s next fortunetellers.

The Bureau of Labor describes the work environment of actuaries as “comfortable and pleasant.” Many of the job’s 40-hour (at minimum) workweeks are erratic and spent away from home.

The club has already generated a good deal of interest, especially among math and economics majors looking to go beyond research and teaching jobs. Meetings will be weekly and focus on things like career development and r퀌�sum퀌�-building. For more information on the actuary club, contact Nicole Campbell at [email protected]